Sunday 30 July 2023

Blashford Lakes, New Forest

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea

Sunday 30 July

Lovely clear skis at 7 but by the time I setoff for the New Forest after breakfast it had rather clouded over. Making a very short stop at Eyeworth Pond where I found it rather damp and short of any bird life save for single Starling, Mallard, Blackbird and a few Woodpigeons, I continued on to spend a couple of hours at Blashford Lakes just north of Ringwood.  However, not just cloud now but a steady, very light drizzle so quickly into the Tern Hide with scope but camera left in the car.  Once settled in along with four fellow birders the light was very poor and save for a nearby couple of Tufted Duck and a number of Coot, all the bird life would appear to be either on the water beyond half-way or resting on the distant islands.  Time indeed, to make use of the scope albeit before moving over to the main site the light had improved.

Once moving away from all the Coots and a number of Tufted Duck I quickly found a a regular supply of Great Crested Grebes on the water at the back and then took  closer look at the distant islands.  Despite the poor visibility, very easy to pick out the numerous Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls along with a small number of Cormorant.  On, but mainly behind, the islands almost thirty Mute Swans.

Every no and again a single Mallard plus a few Egyptian Geese but scanning left from the islands I came to scores of resting/feeding geese on the grassy banks.  Mainly Egyptian but also a score or more Canada Geese along with a pair of Greylags.  Another handful of Greylag Geese were also found on another small island. It was on this last island that I also found a small number of Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Common Sandpipers.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Meanwhile, much nearer to the hide, a Grey Wagtail was working a nearby shore and then a Snipe.  Another Mallard was recorded as two new birders entered the hide and were determined to find the Ruddy Shelduck that had been present for over a week and last seen on Wednesday by the birder sitting next to me. Much searching and within ten minutes the good news that the bird had been spotted at the back of a distant island hiding behind the resting gulls.  Thankfully, the light had improved a little and constant watching with the scope for at least ten minutes finally produced the result for me as the Ruddy Shelduck moved past an opening between the resting gulls.  My first sighting for at least three years.  To round off the session both a Magpie and Carrion Crow also alighted n the same island for a little foraging.

Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Moving over to the main reserve I mad my way to the Woodland Hide to take stock of the small birds making us of the feeders. As I approached a Jay flew away into the near trees along with both Great Tit and Robing. Once settled alone inside, lots of Blue and Great Tits along with a small number of Greenfinch and Chaffinch plus a couple of Goldfinch.  A single Nuthatch put in an appearance and before moving on I also found a Robin and three Dunnock.  Rising from my seat I also noted the newly-arrived Blackbird.

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

Looking over the water from the South Ivy Hide all was very quiet save for the departing pair of Gadwall.  But a closer look at the floating nesting platforms resulted in a pair of adult Common Tern and at least four youngsters on two of the nesting sites. A quick walk through the woods to the Ivy North Hide where three more Gadwall were recorded then back to the car as the few rain drops decided to become more of a steady light soaking! 

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Once in the car a short drive along the lane the hamlet of Ibsey where, eventually, I found not only the "missing" Woodpigeon but also a pair of Collared Doves, a quartet of House Sparrows, a few Jackdaw and more Carrion Crows, so resulting in a final tally of 36 species for the morning.

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Coot, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

NOTE: All photographs from personal library of past sightings

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